The other day, a friend said something that I thought was really profound.
She expressed how when it comes to her workouts,she feels pressure to “be seen” at group classes…even when they don’t work in her schedule, even when she needs rest or time with her family, even when she could work out on her own at a more convenient time.
Yes, I could relate. This pressure to “be seen” is so real.
As someone who has long promoted and built a career around group exercise, I’ve always considered the accountability aspect of group classes to be one of the biggest selling points. Being seen is the reason why.
We all have this deep need within us to be seen by others. We want our efforts to be acknowledged. We want to connect. We want to belong. Basically, we want our lives to be witnessed.
By the way, social media didn’t create this need in human beings, it only made it easier to fill.
It’s like when you’re having a really good hair day and rocking an awesome new outfit and you go out and about running errands…and you don’t see anybody you know. What a waste!
So it made sense what she was saying. We sometimes go places we don’t want to go at times we don’t want to go at in order to “be seen” by the people that matter to us.
But it got me thinking about when this accountability stops being a good thing and when it starts to get us out of alignment with our authentic selves.
For example, I don’t work a consistent schedule and I actually prefer it that way. So some days I won’t come in until 10:00am because I know I’ll be there until 7:00pm or so that night, like if I’m teaching classes. I’d feel the need to explain that when I walked in.
“Good morning Steph!”
“Hey I’’m not lazy! I’m going to be here late tonight that’s why I didn’t come in until now!”
I wanted to “be seen” as a person who was working hard. But at some point throughout my self-confidence journey that started to feel really inauthentic to me. I thought, “Why am I feeling the need to explain myself? I know I work hard. Why is it so important to me that they know?”
Just to see how it felt, I stopped justifying my comings and goings and I realized that I liked that better. It sort of felt “rebellious” because we all have that fear of what others might be thinking which is why we offer explanations.
Instead of choosing fear of others’ opinions I’ve decided to practice choosing love for myself.
Earlier this fall I decided not to run in the Ragnar Trail Relay for a multitude of reasons. When making this decision, it crossed my mind to say something like “I’m not doing the race anymore but instead, I will run 10 miles that day!” or some other crap. I don’t know. I’d seen people do things like that before when they couldn’t be at an event for one reason or another and it sounded noble and cool.
Then I realized I didn’t want to do some sort of “honorary” run any more than I wanted to do the actual race. It didn’t have meaning for me. What would the point of it? To prove I’m good enough? That I could have done it I wanted to? To make sure no one thought I was lazy?
If we’re only showing up places for the validation we get from being “seen” then maybe that activity isn’t serving us as much as we thought it was.
Accountability is really an awesome and useful thing. I’m just starting to think that it shouldn’t be the most important thing in our lives, the driving force behind everything we do. Let’s be accountable to our own needs, wants, and desires too. And yes, sometimes external accountability does help us achieve those things that we want. Use that to your advantage because it works.
But I have a dare for you…
The next time you’re exhausted and you want to hit that snooze button to skip your 5:00am group class and get more rest, do it, go back to sleep AND DON’T EXPLAIN IT TO ANYONE.
The next time you’ve had a long hard week and you just need some “me time” but you had plans with your friends to go out…TELL THEM THAT! Don’t over explain, don’t apologize for your needs. Just state your reason and let it be. If they’re really friends, they’ll be fine with it.
You get the idea.
Being seen isn’t always about arriving where you’re expected to be when you’re expected to be there. To truly be seen, be your authentic self. Stop explaining your life away. Worry less about the opinions of others and more about your opinion of yourself. Embrace who you are and how you feel. Choose for yourself. Be real instead of being impressive. Rebel a little bit.
Less fear, more love.